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Internal clouds are more than just virtualisation

Jon Brodkin (IDG News Service) | Oct. 15, 2009
They are just one of many required steps.

SAS, a business intelligence software vendor, is piloting Platform ISF internally to create a self-service portal for developers allowing them to "quickly and reliably provision and deploy compute and application resources," says Cheryl Doninger, research and development director for the enterprise computing infrastructure at SAS.

Pooling together server, storage and networking resources will eliminate inefficiencies in SAS's previous method of deploying custom computing setups to individual R&D groups.

SAS went with Platform ISF because the company needs to support multiple hypervisors and wanted its cloud to include both physical and virtual servers, possibilities not supported by VMware's vSphere. "Even though virtualisation technology is getting better, there is still a performance consideration when you move an application from a physical deployment to a virtual deployment," Doninger says.

Eucalyptus Systems, an open source company, provides a Linux-based platform that installs on existing hardware and is designed to let an internal data center operate like the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud, says Eucalyptus CTO and co-founder Rich Wolski. Virtualisation alone does not give users control over their own resources, Wolski explains, so products like Eucalyptus enable the self-service interface and sharing of resources.

"Users can configure their particular piece of the cloud in exactly the way they want, just like they do with Amazon," Wolski says. "The cloud enables the user to have a great deal more control over the piece of infrastructure they are entitled to use. Without a cloud, the administrator has to control everything."

Private cloud adoption may be low today, but the market is expected to heat up significantly over the next few years. In addition to software-only products such as Platform ISF and Eucalyptus, companies such as IBM and HP are selling hardware/software bundles that work in similar ways, albeit without the benefit of reusing existing hardware.

The analyst firm Gartner predicts that IT organisations will invest more in private cloud services than in external cloud providers through 2012.

"Private cloud services will be a stepping-stone to future public cloud services," Gartner says. "For many large organisations, private cloud services will continue to be required for many years, as public cloud offerings mature."


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